Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th - Dark Horse Brewing Company

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Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5thDark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

2,617 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,617
Reviews: 373
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 7.69%
Wants: 2,078
Gots: 704 | FT: 93
Brewed by:
Dark Horse Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: MbpBugeye on 07-25-2010

Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,617 | Reviews: 373
Photo of fiver29
4.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pours pitch black and coats the glass like oil. Tan head. Heavy mouthfeel. Aroma is wood, bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate. Flavor follows the nose and has a nice chocolate note upfront, some booze, rich caramel in the middle, and finishes with a great chocolate bourbon note. This beer is simply fantastic.

Photo of Arbitrator
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a dark, oily black -- the color of motor oil that has been used several thousand miles past spec. A pinky finger of dark mocha head caps the beer; retention is short.

S: Vanilla, caramel / burnt sugar, fudge, bourbon, oak, molasses. The net effect here is reminiscent of early, keg-only Parabola. I shed a tear for the hoppy abomination the bottle form has become, and give praise that Dark Horse seems to have stumbled onto Firestone-Walker's formula.

T: As in the nose, the flavor captures a delicious blend of fudgy vanilla. Bourbon is somehow less prominent than the vanilla bean character, though it is by no means hidden. A touch of roast evokes earthy coffee, but this is a minor element; the beer clearly prefers the chocolate-dessert approach, and I'm not one to complain about that.

M: Chewy and oily, but not lingering or difficult to remove from the palate. In fact, it finishes relatively cleanly for something this big. And it hides the ABV quite well. I'm sure this is beyond 14% (isn't that what the base beer has?). My only complaint is that as it warms, it has a distinct solventy aftertaste, which in several bottles became unbearable at the proper serving temp.

O: I had this a few times out of the bottle and detected noticeable variation. Two bottles were outstanding; very fudgy and rich, with great bourbon integration. Others were a little cardboardy and solventy. I'm tweaking my score so that the overall grade is a rough average of the bottles I've had.

Incidentally, I compared this to early batches of Parabola, but it also reminds me of a chewier Silva Stout. Overall, this is a fantastic beer and needs more love.

Photo of tarheels86
4.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

355mL 2011 ed silver wax thanks to mikem409. Pours ink with a larger reddish mocha head settling abruptly to a bubbly layer. Nose is richer vanilla with thicker sweet bourbon. Very reminiscent of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Rich wood and mild dark cherries. Very inviting, dessert nose. Taste is silky, rich, spicy bourbon, big dark chocolate. Thankfully only hints of ash that sometimes plague Dark Horse beers. Bitter, thicker. Very enjoyable. Great palate. Lower carbonation with super rich, oily palate. Beautiful stuff. Glad to see this bumped into the Top 50 on both sites. 1/13/2012 8/4/8/5/16=4.1

Photo of deebo
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version on tap at The Happy Gnome

A-Black as night with a skimming of dark tan head which leaves some lacing as you drink.

S-Dominant aromas of bourbon, earthy oak, and heavily toasted malt. Also plenty of whiffs remniscent of sweet aromas vanilla and burnt sugar. The aromas really come out nicely as the beer warms.

T-Similar to the aroma but more layers and really nice complexity. Bourbon upfront, the oak and earthy aromas are quite present and really pleasing. I don't think I've noticed this quality as strong in any other BB RIS. Plenty of sweet, dark malt. Hints of bitterness but really mild for some of the chocolate and coffee like tastes detected. The sweet tastes of burnt sugar and vanilla really balance out the heavy characteristics.

M-The mouthfeel is wonderful. My biggest complaint of most BB RIS is the syrupy, cloying and or alcoholic burn qualities. This one has none of the above and at a reported ABV of 14% it is absolutely world class. I've had 5%+ beers have more alcoholic sting than this baby. Body is heavy yet clean and almost crisp, a bitterness that is there but not at all lingering, this baby is smooth.

O-I was hesitant to get this on a hot day but had not had the pleasure before so had to brave the heat to try this, very glad that I did. This is a winner, now I have another beer that I have to add to the hit list to try to get every year.

Photo of MattyG85
4.89/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage on tap at The Happy Gnome in St. Paul, Minnesota. 10 oz. pour served in a New Belgium Globe glass.

Appearance: Color is an oily pitch black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of deep tan head which fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a good amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: Smells very big, rich, and fairly sweet. Nice scent of bourbon with good hints of vanilla, wood, and oak chips. Big dark malts with big hints of chocolate, coffee, molasses, maple syrup, burnt caramel, toffee, and dark bread. A little bit of smokey roast. A scent of alcohol is present but it blends in well with the dark sweetness. The vanilla and chocolate really stands out. Very rich and good aroma.

Taste: As good as the aroma leads, Big taste of bourbon upfront with some good notes of vanilla, oak, and wood cask. Rich and sweet dark roasted malts with big notes of dark chocolate, bitter coffee, maple syrup, molasses, burnt toast, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and a little bit of smoke. Some alcohol heat is tasted but not as overwhelming as one might expect. Good balance of sweetness from the vanilla and chocolate, with the bitter roast. Really great taste here.

Mouthfeel: A rich and heavy body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy and fairly syrupy and creamy. Sweet but far from cloying. Smoother than expected at 14%.

Overall: A really great Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. Big, rich, and dark while keeping the sweetness and booze taste under control.

Photo of mfavoino
4.11/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared between three friends and poured into a Surly tulip. Side by side with the base.

Appearance: Looks like thick motor oil with a nice mocha rim to it. A ring is left along the top of the glass.

Smell: Bourbon dominates the nose. Alcohol, oak, and a dark roasty aroma are the most prominent aromas beyond the initial bourbon.

Taste: Smooth bourbon is the first thing to touch my palate and has a huge flavor. Some roasted malt, sweet chocolate, and oak give it the complexity it needs. Booze warmth as it finishes.

Mouthfeel: Heavy mouthfeel, creamy, and boozy.

Overall: Very much different from the base beer, as the bourbon is strong. I honestly think I prefer the base in this case, but that is not to say that they took anything away from it with the BB version.

Photo of Etan
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz 2011 bottle shared by ravot. Thanks!

A: Brownish black with a very dark brown head. Thick looking.

S: Huge vanilla, maple, chocolate. Creamy and richly aromatic.

T: Mild roast, chocolate, slight raisin, vanilla, caramel, solid oak, pleasant hit of booze in the finish.

M: Thick with a bit of carbonation.

O: Very, very good bourbon barrel stout.

Photo of BrewerB
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage with a gray wax seal. Cheers to aasher for sending it. Been on my Wants for quite some time. Thanks again, Al!

Pours a jet black color with a dense dark tan foam that stood just under a couple fingers tall before collapsing down thin. The foam is mostly retained atop the beer though a small section has erased completely. Complex aroma includes molasses and toffee along with a prominent bourbon barrel component that takes shape as maple, vanilla, and a bit of charred oak. As the beer continues to warm, I'm picking up a candied fruit note reminiscent of chocolate covered blueberries. Diving into the first sip, it's the molasses and char/smokiness that stand out to me first. Dark, bitter chocolate comes up next and there's a bit of raisin on the back end. Lots of bitterness here to make sure this keeps the massive malt bill in check and this lingers on a bit in the finish. Hefty on the palette while carbonation is taking a back seat.

This is a malt heavy, complex beast of a beer and the bourbon barrel components blend right in. I'll be savoring this slowly over the rest of the evening. Thanks again, Al!

Photo of Treebs
4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz waxed bottle served in a FW tulip. We did a side by side with the base beer.

A: Pours a jet black with a quick dissolving dark mocha head forming on the pour. A very thin ring is left over that leaves no lace, but there are some nice legs.

S: Really smooth and sweet bourbon up front. Chocolate, roasted malts and oak. Dark chocolate and raisins on the finish.

T: Bourbon up front like the nose, but again, it's very smooth and sweet. Just a touch of heat comes from it. Sweet caramel and oak barrel. Coffee like dark chocolate with a little bitterness to it. The finish is toffee and raisin.

M: Thick and heavy bodied. Creamy mouthfeel with a medium to low carbonation level.

O: The barrel aging really took this beer to another level with out sacrificing the complexities of the base beer. I'm glad it still retained the body that regular Plead the 5th carries. A must try.

Photo of johnnnniee
4.32/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at EBF on Saturday afternoon. Pours a solid black with a decent tan head with some retention. Smell is heavy on the bourbon with lots of chocolate and roast, and some vanilla and wood. Taste is chocolate bourbon and roast. Thick body with a creamy smooth mouthfeel and a light level of carbonation. A big thick stout, one of my favorites of the day.

Photo of thebigredone
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finding this beer on tap the one time I stopped by Dark Horse on a random April day completely made my vacation.

I'll skip to overall impressions. This will be the barrel aged stout by which I judge all other barrel aged stouts, and they will all fall short. This beer was perfect, a fantastic blend of bourbon and dark chocolatey stout, with a thick, creamy mouthfeel. I honestly don't think it could be improved upon. 5 out of 5. Well done Dark Horse, I tip my hat to you.

Photo of Dennoman
4.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Massive thanks to trading partner Pnell316, hope you enjoyed the De Molen bottles!

2011 vintage, poured into a 25 cl tasting tulip.

A: Pour is thick and black, with a dark brown caramel head. Slight redness on the pour and legs, but very hard to detect. A textbook imperial stout look-wise.

S: Bourbon notes, alcohol warming your nostrils, big bourbon hit and pleasant dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate bitterness is the first thing that touches the palate, which is then swept away by candy sugar and bourbon sweetness. I could spend ages trying to describe the tastes that pop up in this brew. It's a taste explosion that lingers far into the aftertaste. The after-sip aroma on the tongue is pleasantly bitter, as if to fool you the sweet, woody bourbon was never there.

M: Soft carbonation through a thick oily mass makes this slide down deceptively easy. Velvety smooth and just as sexy.

O: I cannot sing the praises of this beer enough. Though it would have probably scored higher if it had a slight touch of extra bitterness from the dark roasted malts, I find it very hard to fault this. If you can somehow get this, you definitely should. I'll be after you if you don't.

Photo of kawilliams81
4.27/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 8 oz snifter. 2011 vintage with silver wax.

A- pours a thick black with a 1 finger dark cola head. Small amoeba blotches remain on the glass.

S- huge vanilla aroma, marshmallow, chocolate, bourbon, some ashy roastiness.

T- bourbon, dark chocolate, oak, roasted dark malts, big coffee bitterness at the finish.

M- full body and medium carbonation. Rich and slick feel with a slight burn from the abv.

O- very good BA stout. From the regular version I guess I should expect the as hipness and dark chocolate. Just didn't have that amazing vanilla, chocolate, bourbon combo I love from bcbs.

Photo of scottfrie
4.3/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, 2011 vintage. Thanks for this one, Mark. (Compared side-by-side with regular version).

A: Pours black with a very thin dark chocolate head that quickly dispersed into a faint collar leaving wisps of lace.
S: Huge notes of sweet bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel and dark chocolate. I’m getting almost none of the roast and anise that I pick up in the regular version.
T: A huge improvement on the original. Rich and decadent flavors of buttery oak, chocolate fudge, sweet and sticky bourbon, raisins, caramel, and vanilla. The bourbon and oak and integrated very well and have seemed to smooth over all the rough edges of the original. I’m getting some peat in the original that isn’t found in the barrel version. Very smooth and rich.
M: Low but creamy carbonation, slight alcohol warmth, rich and smooth mouthfeel with a full body.
O: Side by side these two beers are like night and day. While the original is good, the flavor profile on the barrel aged one makes it taste like it doesn’t even have the same base beer. Well worth finding a bottle or two. Thanks again, HosP, for sending me a couple.

Photo of womencantsail
4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Derek. Thanks!

Black in color with a nice viscosity and a finger of dense brown head. Heavy on the bourbon and vanilla, as expected. Great chocolate character with hints of roasted malt, caramel, and molasses. Pleasantly sweet, but not cloying. Great milk chocolate and vanilla flavors all the way through with tons of bourbon as well. Not too heavy on the oak, but a little bit is present. Mild roasted malt and caramel flavors.

Photo of yamar68
4.67/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Thanks to randjuke for this gem. 2011 vintage poured into a brandy snifter:

Pours a pitch black ink. A dense, boozy finger of dark brown head swells up only to recede back to a neat collar. Sexy ass legs. Slow, fine beading hovers just below the cap. Beautiful.

Rich dark chocolate, molasses, big bourbon, various cocoa, more big spicy bourbon, think BCBS. I could sit and snort at this all day.

Hot damn. Thick wood (hehe) notes, vanilla, bourbon, breakfast syrup, boozy finish. I feel like the vanilla might really pop with some age. Unfortunately, this is my one and only bottle but I'm very grateful to have had the chance to try it!

Just another example of why the midwest conquers every other corner of the world when it comes to imperial stouts.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.19/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep black with almost nothing as a head, kind dark cherry cola looking wisp to it. Aroma, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, all almost equally present, not domineering, nice.

Taste, wow, really smooth, more of the same elements from the nose keep their equitable place on the palate. Overall sweetness is up there, but never diabetes inducing stuff, really, this is a well balanced flavor profile for a huge beer, that doesn't knock you over the head with the alcohol.

This is one of those special beers. Plead the 5th is an already great base beer. Sometimes (Rasputin) you can throw a great base beer into a bourbon barrel, and it becomes less great. Not the case here. It isn't a pretty beer, and the first look and smell won't tip you off to how good this is, but drink it, you'll like it.

Thanks to largadeer for breaking this, and many other gems out at the Solar Eclipse party.

Photo of brystmar
3.82/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JBuddle for sharing!

Looks like an imperial stout, leaving good lace. Nice aroma of bourbon-coated roasty malts. Dark, almost burnt. Slight oxidization too.

Roasty up front, though the bourbon takes over quickly and overwhelms the other flavors. The barrel aging is a kinda out of control here; the barrel character shouldn't be this prominent.

Huge body is this brew's savior. Bourbon be damned: the viscous mouthfeel is right where it needs to be.

I prefer the base beer -- especially with age -- but this isn't bad. I hear last year's batch was much better (makes sense; the beer I'm drinking isn't anywhere near deserving of a 4.48 average). Hope I can try a 2010 bottle someday.

Photo of sukwonee
4.24/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black and black... tiny mocha head, with very little lacing.

S: Wow... bourbon, cherry, molasses, oak, brown sugar, chocolate. Very boozy but strong smell.

T: Bourbon, vanila, brown sugar, chocolate, quite strong cherry and dark fruits, some smoke and hops near the end. Sweet and Slightly too boozy for me, but big big taste (follows the nose)

M: A bit too hot for me and surprisingly not as thick nad syrupy as I expected for a big beer like this.

O: Very nice bourbon barrel aged stout, but not my favorite. I much prefer this over the normal plead the 5th (which was a bit too smokey for my taste).

Photo of mdaschaf
4.62/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to funhog for this one, been a top want for a while!

A: Pours a deep black with a very small tan head that reduces quickly leaving a very thin ring on top. Minimal lacing forms and dissolves quickly.

S: Lots of bourbon and roasted malt up front, chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and a little bit of dark fruit. As it warms the wood comes forward a bit as well. There is a little bit of alcohol, just to let you know its there.

T: Fantastic flavor profile. A great blend of bourbon flavors, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, mixed with a little bit of chocolate and light roasted malt. The bourbon really shines nicely in this beer, not too in your face. Faint dark fruit flavors add a bit of sweetness.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Slightly dry, but sweet finish. No sign of the alcohol in the taste.

O: Really great beer. The flavors blend nicely with the level of bourbon presence being spot on. I can see why it is so sought after.

Photo of BostonHops
4.69/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours the customary used motor oil black; a fairly aggressive pour yields an expected short lived mocha / almost cinnamon tone head.

assertive nose offers a wallop of bourbon right out of the gate, which is followed by chocolate and roasted malt characters; secondary notes of vanilla, molasses, and a subtle dark fruit-like presence.

flavor follows the nose pretty closely. make no mistake, this one is a bourbon bomb (which i live for), but the bourbon doesn't overwhelm the other elements. the chocolate, roastiness, vanilla et al pull through in fine form. delicious. full bodied mouthfeel, velvety more than chewy if that makes sense. some heat but not what you'd expect from a 14% monster.

overall, a stellar imperial stout. almost unfair to lump some of these barrel-aged beers in with the general population, but this one stands out even among other barrel aged brews. if you're fortunate enough to come across it, don't hesitate.

(originally reviewed: 01-18-2012)

Photo of MichPaul
4.81/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I received this in a trade at the KBS release, and was waiting for a special occasion in order to enjoy it. So I am enjoying it with the pleasure of accepting a new job offer.
Pours black as night with absolutely no head. I never knock a stout for no head. The head on a stout just doesn't do it for me anyway. I still love the thickness of this beer to give the appearance a 4.5
Strong Bourbon smell in the aroma of this beer. Little bit of chocolate aroma, but mostly bourbon.
Taste is a huge rival of KBS and all the top stouts. I actually think this tops KBS for me. It drinks a bit smoother and is actually higher in ABV. Quite a bit of bitterness here as well as alcohol burn, but still goes down smooth.
Mouthfeel is medium to low carbonation, but a little higher bitterness than most of these BBA stouts.
Overall, this is a great stout that I enjoy just as much if not more than KBS. I would say if you like BBA stouts you have got to try and get this. It's a wonderful beer in this genre!

Photo of greenmonstah
4.39/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle enjoyed in a blind tasting alongside BCBS and KBS

A - Thick black with no head, alcohol lacing, dark brown edges.

S - Cherry, molasses, sweet, alcohol, cocoa, vanilla tinted bourbon.

T - Bourbon!!!! Chocolate, molasses, cherry, alcohol. So much bourbon, the barrel dominates the flavor. Oak, vanilla extract, light char.

M - Medium body, zero carbonation.

O - Fantastic! A perfect display of bourbon barrel flavors layered onto an excellent stout base. Thought this beer had more bourbon notes than KBS, which I didn't realize was possible.

Photo of Rifugium
4.36/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on tap at Hawthorne's, Philly, PA

This guy eluded me for a while, but I finally caught it at Hawthorne's. Served in a Chimay chalice, I can't imagine a better looking beer: thick, dark black like motor oil, capped with a creamy dark chocolate head that quickly sank to a ringlet of bubbles. Maybe a little more retention would've been nice, but I didn't expect much from such a high octane beer. Aroma of dark malts, moderately roasty, dark chocolate, heavy bourbon. Dark sweet malts in the taste, chocolate chips, toasted marshmallow, heavy yet smooth bourbon with notes of vanilla and oak. Full body, creamy and delicious, a great sipper. Not quite as smooth as a nicely aged BCBS, but a great brew nonetheless.

Photo of Holland
4.53/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark black with a thin brown head. Delicious and thick looking.

S: caramel, bourbon, roasted malt, and done dark fruits?

T: huge bitter dark malt flavor with all of the bourbon, oak, and slight sweetness.

M: this is thick and rich, but has nice carbonation as well.

O: great beer. Worth tracking down. It's darkness and huge roasted and bitter flavors make it stand out from other bourbon barrel stouts. This is still very much a stout.

Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th from Dark Horse Brewing Company
100 out of 100 based on 2,617 ratings.